Dibeke (South Africa)
Name of sport (game)
Name in native language
Place of practice (continent, state, nation)
According to oral history the name Dibeke came after the game was already played, to describe the addictive nature of the sport to the youth, which played week-in week-out every day of the week.
Dibeke (also called Nikkies, Skaloulo and Kimberley Jim) is a multi-running ball game played with two teams of 12 players. The teams take turns to attack and defend. Individual attackers are called and must kick the ball beyond the centre lines towards the attackers’ box.
Rules of Dibeke
The game is played on a field that is 60 metres long and 40 metres wide. The main playing area is a strip, similar to a cricket pitch, where the attackers score their points. The defenders are scattered around this strip. The manner in which you accrue points is similar to baseball and cricket, in that you are out if the defenders tag you with the ball.
Instead of a bat, as in cricket or baseball, the dibeke attackers kick the ball (a soccer ball) and defenders can use their hands to pass the ball to each other in an effort to tag the attackers. Once the ball is in play, the game is basically a challenge for the opposition to score as many points, up and down the strip, as possible. Once all the attackers are out, the defenders then get their turn to attack.
There is a time limit, though, with two halves of 40 minutes. If the attacking team is not dismissed, the remaining players can carry on attacking for the duration of the match, to be declared the winners.
Each team consists of 12 players, six girls and six boys.
– One size 3 leather ball for seniors.
– One size 1 leather ball for juniors.
– Two stopwatches.
– Two scoreboards with numbers 1 to 20 shown on each of them.
– A score-sheet to record points and the final score.
– A 30-metre measuring tape.
– Lime to mark the playing field with.
– A whistle for the match facilitator.
– One red card and one yellow card.
– Two hand flags for linespersons.
– Each player should have their letters clearly printed on the front of their shirt.
The play area
The pitch is an open grassy area of approximately 60m long and 40m wide. The borders are marked with a white line. An area of 10m around the borders should be left open as an extended play area.
The white centre line divides the length of the pitch into two equal rectangles of 40m x 30m. The centre circle has a radius of 1.5m. It is marked with a white line and is divided into two equal semi-circles by a centre line.
There are two attackers’ boxes (10m x 5m). Each team chooses a ‘home’ box. The box stretches from the back line towards the centre line; its side borders are 15m from the side borders of the area of play. The attackers’ boxes are shown by white lines at both ends of the playing area.
The kicker’s box is a rectangle of 1.5m x 5m, stretching towards the centre line. The rolling area is between the kicker’s box and centre circle. The side borders are marked with a broken white line.
The defenders’ area, in which the defending team is spread out, is behind the median (midline). The players stand behind the roller of the ball (from the defending team) who takes up his or her position in the centre circle (roller’s box). The attackers are positioned in a straight line. One attacking player is called to enter the kicker’s box. He or she kicks the ball from the kicker’s box across the median line in the defenders’ area.
Team composition and roles
There are two teams of 12 players per team, made up of 6 males and 6 females. A full squad for competitions should consist of 12 players for each team of equal gender representation.
Each team chooses a captain. The captains of both teams liaise with the match facilitator during the match. Each team nominates a scorekeeper. The two scorekeepers count the runs of each player and of the team during the match.Each team has an opportunity to be ‘attackers’ or ‘defenders’.One of the defenders acts as the ‘roller’ of the ball. He or she will roll the ball and call out the letters of an attacker (shown on the jersey of the player), one of whom will be called to enter the ‘kicker’s box’ and kick the ball into play. This player is then known as the ‘kicker’.
The captains toss a coin to decide who will be the defenders and who the attackers. The match facilitator blows the whistle twice for the attackers, the roller and the defenders to take up their respective positions on the pitch. This occurs at the start of the match, the start of each round, and every time play is resumed after the half-time break or an interruption (i.e. when the ball has gone ‘dead’).
At the start or re-start of play, the attackers stand next to each other in a single line in the attackers’ box. The defenders position themselves in the defenders’ area (on the centre half of the pitch opposite the attackers’ half of the pitch). No defender may stand outside the pitch before the ball has been kicked.
The roller takes up position in the roller’s semi-circle in the middle of the field. When the match facilitator starts the game, the roller calls out the letter of an attacker (shown on the jersey of the player) and rolls the ball along the ground towards the attackers’ area. The ball must remain on the ground and within the roller’s area until it is kicked by the attacker. The ball is rolled under-arm. The speed of the ball is of no consequence.
The attacker whose letter was called immediately steps into the kicker’s box and kicks the ball beyond the centre line. After kicking the ball, he or she must run to the attackers’ box on the opposite end of the pitch. The kicker’s team-mates may ‘help’ the kicker by running with him or her to the attackers’ box on the opposite side of the pitch.
The defenders try to catch the ball or retrieve it as soon as possible. After retrieving the ball, the defenders ‘eliminate’ the players of the attacking team by throwing the ball at them – trying to hit them with the ball. If an attacker is hit, then he or she is ‘out’ for the rest of that round.
If the attackers arrive safely at the other end (in the attackers’ box), then they are safe to continue to play until they are all out and the teams change around (attackers become defenders and vice versa). The attackers cannot be hit while they are in the attackers’ box or in their home box.
If a defender calls an incorrect ball (a letter of an attacker which is not correct), then we call this a dead ball. A dead ball can be brought back to the field of play by any player from either side.
Technical officials will review the team’s performance at the end of each day.
If an attacker with one foot inside the box is hit, then that attacker is out. He or she is only safe with both feet inside the box.
If a ball is caught midair by a defender, while members of the attacking team are still running to their box, then all of the players who are out of the box are caught out. Only those who are home are safe.
There are two linespersons on the pitch. These linespersons use flags and ensure that no players run off the field of play during the game.
Code of Conduct
Abusive language may not be used on the pitch.
Fighting is not allowed.
A player will be sent off for threatening or fighting with officials or other players.
A team will be disqualified if they miss a match.
The attacking team scores when:
– an attacker reaches the opposite attacking box safely. This counts as 1 run.
– an attacking team member makes 20 runs. The attacking team is awarded 2 points and the eliminated attackers are set free – to join the others in the home box to start play as attackers in the following round.
The defenders score when:
– all the players of the attacking team have been eliminated. In this case, the defending team scores 1 point. When all the attackers are out, the teams change around and the attackers become defenders, taking up position in the attackers’ box, while the defenders position themselves in the defenders’ area.
A run is scored each time an attacker has run from one attacker’s box to the other one without being hit by the ball. Runs can be scored at any time while the ball is in play.
A short run is made when an attacker does not run the full length of the field. In this case, the match official will call one short run, indicating the letter of the attacker as soon as the ball is dead (any runs attempted or previously scored by the attacker, except for the last one, are cancelled).
The team with the highest score at the end of the allotted playing time wins the match. Attacker(s) are eliminated (out) until the next round when a player / attacker:
– whose letter has been called fails to kick the ball beyond the centre line in the field of play.
– is hit by a defender’s ball when he or she is outside any of the attackers’ boxes after the ball has been kicked into play.
– who was previously dismissed is hit during his / her run back to the attackers’ box after a round has been completed.
– runs outside the boundaries of the pitch at any stage of the play.
– kicks short of the defenders’ area or misses the ball for the third consecutive attempt – only two misses are allowed.
The whole attacking team is eliminated (out) when:
– the ball of the kicker is caught in mid-air (caught out).
– all the attackers have been hit (one at a time) while they are outside either of the boxes.
A team is allowed an unlimited but regulated number of substitutes during a match.
No more than three substitutes will be allowed on the pitch at the same time during play.
Substituting a player may not take place within three minutes of the last one.
The match facilitator and scorekeepers will record all substitutions.
A player will receive a red card and be suspended for the duration of the game if he or she:
– incites other players or supporters to disrupt the game.
– assaults or insults another player’s match official or supporter.
– displays a negative gender attitude towards a player of the opposite sex.
A player will receive a yellow card (warning) and be suspended for the round of the game in which the offence was committed if he or she:
– obstructs another player during play.
– challenges the authority of a match official (this does not apply to the captain, who may query a decision).
– delays throwing the ball while an attacker is running, or gives the attacker a chance to dodge a possible hit with the ball.
The following general fouls will also be penalised:
– Any player of the attacking team who makes a short run will forfeit all runs he or she has accumulated, except for the last run.
– Any roller will be replaced when he or she rolls the ball outside the rolling area or in the air for the third consecutive attempt.
An official game is 80 minutes divided into two equal halves of 40 minutes each, with a half-time break of no more than 10 minutes. However, if informally played, the players may decide beforehand how long they want to play for, as long as both teams agree and are treated fairly concerning the duration and rest periods of the game.
Sources of information
Source of photos used in this article and gallery: